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Evaluate and critique my current specs? (school/developmental/HDFS)


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I'm planning on applying to a mix of PhD programs in school psychology, developmental psychology, and human development and family studies for the fall 2014 application season. I was wondering if anyone could evaluate my current specs and provide suggestions for how to become a more competitive applicant.


GPA: Undergraduate (major: Psychology)- cumulative= 3.25, UD= 3.97. Graduate (concentration: Developmental Psychopathology)- 3.9. Both degrees are from a small rural state university that is not competitive. I have significant coursework in advanced research methods and statistics.
GRE practice tests: (I haven't studied yet) V: 158 and Q: 155

TA: 2 semesters for a special education teaching credential class, 1 semester for an upper division family studies class

RA: 2 semesters in a developmental lab working on a project involving curriculum design and implementation for preschoolers. I'm also currently working on a Master's thesis examining couple relationships and child maltreatment history through a developmental/attachment theory lens. No presentations or publications, but I'm hoping by next year...?
Work experience: I've worked at my university's counseling center for the last 3 years. This year, I'm also working as a GA on the design, implementation, and evaluation of a life skills curriculum for incoming freshman.

Volunteer experience: two semesters as an early literacy tutor for at-risk youth. Also am semi-active on county child abuse and mental health collaborative initiatives.

Broad research interest/career goals: social/emotional development, child maltreatment, diverse/underserved populations (e.g. Hispanic and LGBT youth), families and family-community connections, prevention/intervention research. I would ideally like to do research, teach, and work in the community as a career goal.
My concerns: I worry that my varied experiences will make me seem all over the place or uncommitted to any one field. I also worry about my university's lack of prestige, my lower undergraduate cumulative GPA, and my lack of presentations/publications.


Do I stand a chance at competitive programs with 60+ applicants for 5-8 spots? What should I try to add over the course of the next year to become more competitive?


Thanks in advance! :)


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You sound competitive. Keep up the research, especially for developmental programs; see if you can present at a conference - that's better than nothing (developmental programs will not allow you to work in the community - non licenseable, by the way, but you might be able to work in behavior mod settings, depending on the university - the program at Kansas sticks out in my mind on this; my mentor at my Masters program was a developmental psychologist who got his degree there). Your grad work should compensate for your low UG. Don't limit yourself geographically when you apply. 

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Thank you for your response! I guess I should have been more clear about what I meant by "working in the community." I don't necessarily feel I need to be a licensed practioner to accomplish that goal. I just want to conduct research that is relevant to the community I am in and be able to participate in community work (for instance, serving as a board member on a county mental health collaborative, informing policy, designing/evaluating prevention/intervention programs, etc.).

I have another question for you, seeing as how you got into a program. :) Do you think having my thesis topic be only slightly relevant to my future goals is going to hurt my chances? It obviously ties into many of my interests, but doesn't necessarily fully encompass them. Is it still helpful just to demonstrate my competence as a researcher?

Thanks again!


Edited by kurumi2117
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Dev psych is still applicable to those goals, then.


It's not unheard of to have your thesis & your career goals be vastly different, especially (as is the case with both of us) the Master's program is a stepping stone towards the PhD. You explained it well - it gives you research experience in the field. 

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